When I have a few minutes in the morning, I like to pop over to Kokblog – an illustrated cooking blog by Johanna Kindvall. Her line drawings accompany each recipe instead of photographs – an aesthetic choice that took my breath away the first time I stumbled upon her site. I melt for her simple style.
Pssst…is it just me, or does this image of cake make you think of Brie?
Recently, Johanna illustrated a cookbook, The Culinary Cyclist, with blogger Anna Brones. I read that it was published by a small cycle-centric outfit in Portland, called Taking the Lane, that specializes in “feminist nonfiction about bicycling.” Curious, I sent away for a copy.
Johanna and I ended up trading books — a happy exchange. She’s a Swede who loves cheese, and I’m a dairy fiend who seeks out quirky pairings. That’s probably why I was drawn to the recipe for quinoa spice cake.
I could picture pairing such a cake with hearty clothbounds – nutty quinoa and earthy rinds sounded lovely together.
As I stirred chopped apples into the batter, I pictured dropping spoonfuls of cinnamon-laced mascarpone on top of the finished cake.
While it baked, I snoozed on a settee and imagined serving thin slices of aged Gouda alongside it. Maybe even clove Gouda.
If ice hadn’t slicked the roads in Philadelphia, I might have been tempted to dig out my olive-green Phillips 3-speed and hand-deliver my quinoa cake to some hungry cheesemongers I know.
The cake looked like baked caviar – textured, yet fluffy. It was lovely for dinner and even better for breakfast with milky chai. It made me want to try more recipes from The Culinary Cyclist, like Cardamom Carrot Marmalade (to serve with soft goat cheese) and Homemade Ginger Ale (for a washed-rind chaser).
The Culinary Cyclist offers these suggestions for living and loving well:
Eat local and mostly plants.
Ride your bike, even on rainy days.
Invite people on picnics.
That’s advice I can get behind. With Johanna Kindvall’s crisp illustrations and Anna Brones’s pithy tips for food shopping on two wheels, The Culinary Cyclist is the must-have treatise on holy rolling and eating. Note: Most of the recipes are gluten-free.
In the meantime, check out Johanna Kindvall’s recipe for Pernod and Herb Risotto on Kokblog. As you can see, it’s perfect for using up that little meteorite of Parm that’s been winking at you from the back of the fridge.
Quinoa Apple Spice Cake
From The Culinary Cyclist: A Cookbook and Companion for the Good Life, written by Anna Brones and illustrate by Johanna Kindvall
(Taking the Lane Press, 2013)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 large organic apple, peeled and diced
8 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
shredded coconut (I skipped this part)
1. Cook quinoa and set aside. To cook quinoa, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa and a dash of salt and let simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until water has cooked off.
2. Mix dry ingredients.
3. Melt coconut oil and whisk together with eggs. Add to dry mixture.
4. Combine all ingredients, including quinoa, and stir in apple pieces.
5. Grease a 9-inch round pan with coconut oil, cover with a light layer of shredded coconut (I skipped the coconut.) Pour batter in and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 F or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Note: Anna suggests adding chocolate chips, nuts, candied ginger, or chopped dried figs. I added walnuts and diced candied ginger. Gorgeous.
Several times a week, I tear my kitchen apart to photograph cheese. When I started this blog in 2009, I didn’t even own a camera, but over the years I’ve enjoyed not just nibbling hunks, but learning how to pose and snap them. As you can see, my kitchen is the color of a washed rind.
This year, I’ve set the goal of improving my photo skills. I’ve learned them on the fly, through trail and error — but now I’m itching to go a little deepers. I’m taking lessons from my photographer pal Albert Yee (also known as “Picky” from the blog, Messy & Picky). And I’m drawing on what I learned from working with Jason Varney and Carrie Purcell during the photo shoot for my book.
The three days I spent with them inspired me to create a drawer of cheese props for my little kitchen studio. I’m proud of this funny drawer, and I find it makes my cheese shoots for Madame Fromage and my freelance work go much more smoothly.
Inside the drawer are Madame Fromage’s photography essentials: 1) make-up brush for dusting off crumbs, 2) chopstick for nudging cheeses to the left or right, 3) nail file for manicuring the occasional rind, 4) all my favorite cheese and butter knives, 5) egg spoons for condiments, 6) Q-tips lest my hunks sweat.
And then, there’s the inspiration corner. I like to leaf through Culture Magazine when I’m in a funk.
My kitchen light is best in late afternoon, so that’s when you’ll find me — dish towel jammed into my back pocket, butter knife in my hair — primping rinds to look their very best. This spring I hope to share more cheese photography tips with you. And if you have any tips or favorite props, please share a crumb.
It’s hard to believe the Cheese Ball was a week ago. Needless to say, I’ve been in reboot mode — sending out thank-yous, bundling up decorations. But I’ve also been working on some new spring projects, including a few collaborations. The first? A cheese-themed dinner at High Street on Market.
If you happen to follow my Instagram, you know that I am obsessed with their vegetable ash bread — it tastes like a winter campfire, plush with a hint of char. And then, there’s the Cannoli Danish. Pastry chef Sam Kincaid (pictured above) uses fresh ricotta from Caputo Bros., tucks it into a papasan chair of pastry, and tops it with a cherry. Under the layers, you find slivers of dark chocolate.
On Tuesday nights after the dinner crowd, High Street gets creative with a special themed “Friends & Family” menu that Chef Eli Kulp tweets out the day of (@elikulp). That’s where February’s cheese dinner comes in. On February 4, the kitchen at High Street will turn into a dairy-themed snow globe. Chef Kulp is planning a 3-course menu around local cheeses from Birchrun Hills Farm. Kulp, named Chef of the Year by The Philadelphia Inquirer, is known for his groundbreaking menus at both Fork and its sister restaurant, High Street. His love of craft — i.e. craft coffee, hand-milled grains — is what drew his interest to craft cheese.
Could I be more elated? Non. Although the menu for Feb. 4 is a secret, I’ve been told there will be a savory cheese danish.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 9-11 p.m.
3 courses/$25 prix fixe/reservations required: 215-625-0988
If you live in Philadelphia, please join Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm and yours truly. There are 32 seats, and I’m hoping to sit next to you!
Okay, okay, I know you want to see a photo of that vegetable ash bread. I don’t dare leave you hanging. Big shout-out here to Alex Bois, who heads up the baking at High Street. Bois, who trained at Sullivan Street in New York, treated me to some of his Panettone over the holidays when I mooned over his anadama bread and buckwheat cherry.
The vegetable ash bread, my personal favorite, toasts up beautifully and is terrific with soft goat cheese. One day, I dream of creating perfect cheese pairings for each of his loaves. Grains that are grown specially for the restaurant and then hand milled make all the difference. For more food photos from High Street, check out the High Street Primer in City Paper.
Today, I am gushing. Not milk, but gratitude. Last night’s Cheese Ball and Cave Raising pulled together $5,000 of seed money for Birchrun Hills Farm to build a cheese cave. This little box, which I decorated last week and posted on Instagram, was filled to the brim. That’s thanks to 370 cheese lovers from across Philadelphia who came out to support our cave raising.
We rented out a club, built a giant cheese board, crowd-sourced the selection, rallied volunteers, and auctioned off dozens of prizes — from a goat cheese CSA to an 8-person cheese tasting. The generosity of local cheese counters, bakeries, cheesemakers, restaurants and small businesses made this night happen. Thank you to everyone who pitched in. A thousand curdy smooches.
Bloggers of the Twittersphere!
Cheese counters of Philadelphia and beyond!
Solid Gold Cheese Ball Dancers! (Who were those people in tracksuits?)
DJ Fusty Camembert!
Cheese-angel Instagrammer groupies!
Baguette-cutting chorus line of Drexel University!
- My super heroes at Di Bruno Bros. for donating loads of cheese and an 8-person tasting
- Weckerly’s Ice Cream for creating and serving chocolate ice cream with Birchrun Blue crumble topping
- Chef Patrick Feury of Nectar, who not only donated a 4-person dinner, but appeared in person to drink beers and cheer us on
- Metropolitan Bakery for 25 gorgeous baguettes and Our Shared Ground for 4 beautiful loaves — not a crumb was left!
- Yellow Springs Farm for donating a goat cheese CSA and 1732 Meats for donating a bacon CSA
- The glass blowers at Glasslight Studio for offering up a stunning “Red Cat” vase
- Denise Fike for drawing fashion portraits and donating her time (she was the woman in the top hat!)
- Restaurants Southwark, High Street on Market, and Eulogy Tavern for gift certificates
- Cherry Grove Farm for gifting cheesemaking lessons — go New Jersey!
- Cheesemongers at Salumeria, Weaver’s Way Co-op, and Valley Shepherd Creamery for gift baskets and giant mozzarella braids
- COOK and Edible Philly for gift certificates
- Fair Food Philly for tickets to the Brewer’s Plate on March 9
- Meadowset Farm & Apiary for sending Caitlin The Intern with beautiful wheels and a sheepskin
- Calkins Creamery, Keswick Creamery, and Farm Fromage for sending wheels in absentia
- The awesome Sara Selepouchin of Occasionette for a picnic-cheese themed gift box
- Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm for boxes of apples, apple-cutting angels, and bushel donations of peaches and Honeycrisps
- Artists Albert Yee and Mike Geno for donating prints
- Pete Demchur of Shellbark Hollow Farm for bringing arm loads of goat cheese
- Ruba Club for hosting us and toasting us
- Stefania Patrizio for our beautiful invitation
Our super volunteers: Marisa McClellan, Jamie Png, Richard Luis Morillo, Seth Kalkenstein, Emily Geddes, Lala Harley, Messy & Picky, Ben Perry, Carolyn Caton, Noelle Foizen, Aimee Knight, Ruth Kalinka, Robin Swan Shreeves, Todd Stregiel
And to all of you who brought cheese (from Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia), YOU made Cheese Ball 2014 a night to remember.
P.S. Are you wondering what happened at the Cheese Ball after midnight? The crowd thinned, there was a lot of dancing, and the lacto-rati stood around eating, assessing, nibbling, pecking, picking, drinking, laughing, hugging, smirking, scooping, smiling, and scoping out the last bits to make fromage fort!
What next, darlings?
On February 4, 2014 Chef Eli Kulp of High Street on Market will feature Sue Miller’s cheeses for a family and friends dinner from 9-11 p.m. Three courses, $25. Join us for a quiet night around the table, sans crowds. Seating is limited to 35. Reservations: 215-625-0988.
Darlings, the Cheese Ball has attracted so many incredible donations that we’re planning an auction on Saturday night at 10 p.m. If you’re coming to the party, check out the list below for a chance to bid on baskets, tastings, and cooking classes around Philadelphia. (We’ll also be raffling off some free stuff earlier in the night, including some Valley Shepherd cheese and a free subscription to Edible Philly.)
A huge thanks to this year’s donors. Almost all of these prizes have arrived unsolicited, which shows you how much the Philadelphia food community loves Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm.
All of the proceeds from the Cheese Ball and auction will be used to seed Sue Miller’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign to build a cheese cave. Have a look at the list of auction items, and come get your number on Saturday night. We’re going to raise a cave! Here are the details, plus the auction line-up:
7:30-midnight, Ruba Club, 416 Green St., Philadelphia
Entry: a hunk of cheese (or a cheese pairing item)+10; cash bar, 21+
Auction Items to Benefit Birchrun Hills Farm (10 p.m.)
Yellow Springs Farm: 1 Goat Cheese CSA Share (13 bimonthly pick-ups)
Nectar: Chef Feury’s Tasting Dinner for 4 people
Di Bruno Bros.: Private After Hours Tasting for 8 people
Fair Food Philly: 2 tickets to Brewer’s Plate on March 9, 2014
Eulogy Belgian Tavern: Gift certificate
Weaver’s Way C0-op: Cheesy Gift Basket
Albert Yee Photo: Original photograph
Mike Geno: Two cheese portraits (prints)
High Street on Market: 2 seats at their Friends & Family Cheese Dinner, Feb. 4
Cook: Gift certificate
Birchrun Hills Farm: Local cheese & beer basket
Meadowset Farm: A tanned sheepskin
Southwark Restaurant: Gift certificate
1732 Meats: Bacon CSA (1 lb. of bacon, biweekly)
Denise Fike: 1 hour of on-the-spot fashion drawings for a wedding or special event
Three Springs Fruit Farm: half bushel of peaches & half bushel of Honeycrisp apples (gift certificate)
Salumeria in Reading Terminal Market: Gift Basket
Cherry Grove Farm: Cheese making class
Glass Light Studios: Hand-blown glass vase
Occasionette: Picnic-themed basket
A huge thanks to the following businesses that are donating edibles to the Cheese Ball: Metropolitan Bakery, Di Bruno Bros., Farm Fromage, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Meadowset Farm & Apiary, Calkins Creamery, and Weckerly’s Ice Cream.